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[Susan notes: I didn't get into the fact that Nocera, whose background is writing about business, is in love with the latest trendy books about teaching--written by non-teachers. We know that op-ed columnists at the New York Times can write whatever they damn well please. No facts needed.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

A teacher knows she's in unfriendly territory when the columnist ( What is Good Teaching) poses "accountability" and "autonomy" as conflicting values. I guess it's understandable that Joe Nocera would be drawn into the fallacy that, like people who cut hair or fly a plane, teachers should know all about the job before getting a license.

But unlike hair--which is, after all, hair, teachers face kids of all shapes, sizes, dispositions, and talents. This means that no matter how well-prepared and how smart she is, a teacher's greatest skill will be her ability to learn on the job--from her students. And one teacher's excellent performance is likely to look a lot different from another's.

Susan Ohanian

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